Marketing with a small non-profit team - featured image of a table full of strategy documents and three people working on them.

10 tips for marketing with a small non-profit team

It’s easy to list all those fancy marketing strategies and say that your organisation will be more successful if you implement them. But what if you don’t have the capacity to follow through on them? What if you work with a very small team and you’re all at capacity already? We’ve put our heads together and came up with a few tips and tricks of what you, as a socially good organisation, might do to still present yourself in the best possible light. Here are our tips for marketing with a small non-profit team:

1. Reach Out

Even though you have a small team of employees, as a not-for-profit you might have many more supporters, not least your donors, volunteers and service users. Reach out to them and see if they would be interested in contributing to your content library. What questions would they like to see addressed and, more importantly, which ones might they be able to answer and give insight on? (If you’re using the content strategy TAYA, their input might be indispensable.)

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of an open hand.

2. Identify and make use of (hidden) talents in your team

Ask your team if anyone has any creative talents they would like to use at work or they would like to explore further/learn. Maybe someone has always wanted to learn how to make wee doodles/cartoons? This could be useful to create some fun, engaging content. Or maybe someone loves to take pictures and would be happy to use their talents to move your organisation’s marketing along. This approach might infuse your staff as well as your marketing with an extra sprinkle of passion and creativity.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of a camera

3. Cooperation with others

Asking partner organisations to share your content can help you, too. Not only will they help you reach your target audiences, but they can help you do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting your content out there. Find collaborators that might share a similar audience to yours, i.e. if you are a charity that focuses on furthering children’s education in a specific country, you could look to work with an organisation that might try to improve food security or access to sanitary products in that country.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of two shaking hands

4. Take your time

Just because you have a small team, doesn’t mean you can’t grow a robust catalogue of content. Sure, you might be slower than you might like, but slow progress is better than none. Do what you can with the resources that you have. Continuous effort is better when doing marketing with a small non-profit team than a big push at the start that slowly grows dormant.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of a clock.

5. Have a content strategy/calendar in place with your team

Marketeers will tell you that good marketing starts with a strategy. We will tell you the same. But we will also tell you that having a strategy doesn’t mean you need to have a lengthy document that takes months to write. A strategy is basically a well thought-through plan of how to proceed – and that can be done in a single page. What should be on that page? Easy:

  • Your organisation’s purpose & goal
  • The objective of your marketing (e.g. increase awareness, more followers, donations, etc.)
  • Your target audience and where to find them
  • Topics and content categories you want to focus on
  • Content format, channel and frequency with which you want to post (consistency better than sporadic)

To get this strategy paper right, it is a good idea to block out a full day for its creation, ideally involving your team. Making this the priority for a day will ensure that everyone is on the same page. You are all free to focus on marketing which in the daily stresses of a small not-for-profit can be easily forgotten. At the end of the day, distribute tasks equally and set expectations for everyone.

Once you have that, you are pretty much ready to go because you know what you will post about, whom you want to address, where you’ll post, how often and what you want to achieve. This one-pager gives you a road map and a clear path forward for your marketing with a small non-profit team.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of paper

6. Focus on your target audience and channel

There are quite a few major social media channels these days and even more smaller niche ones. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you will have to cater to all the common ones. But it might be much more effective and productive for a small organisation to focus on only one channel, whether mainstream or niche, ideally where your target audience is mainly active. Are you looking to attract other organisations and businesses? LinkedIn might be your main choice. Connecting with young environmentally conscious women? Instagram might be your go-to platform. Focusing on one platform doesn’t mean you can’t use others as well, but making one your priority will help to optimise your content for that specific channel and concentrate your efforts.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of a magnifying glass

7. Create content in bulk

Another way to ensure that you take time for marketing is to create content in bulk. So instead of saying ‘I will create a new post every Wednesday to post on Thursday’, block off one day a month to create 4-5 consistent and coherent pieces that tell a story of which you can then post one a week. Blocking off one day a month is likely easier than ensuring you are always free at a certain time during the week.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of a number of images

8. Use free/low-cost software

A great way to create content when you don’t have many resources available is through free online software. If you’ve ever searched for creative content software, you have likely stumbled upon Canva. This a software which helps you to easily create visuals for your marketing. And there are many more out there. Search for what you’re looking for and you might be surprised at how many possibilities the internet has to offer and how much easier content creation can be, especially when marketing with a small non-profit team.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of a browser window

9. Schedule your content

Another good way to stay on top of your regular content schedule is to use free software which helps you post at the times you want to post. Let’s say you create a bunch of content at the beginning of the month. Using scheduling software and uploading all that content onto it right after you have created it, means that you don’t have to worry about content creation and posting for the rest of the month. (Although you should make sure your posts are still up to date before they are posted.)

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of schedule.

10. Make maximum use of your content

Last but not least, make use of your existing content. Do you write a monthly newsletter to your donors? Why not take its content, break it up into a few pieces (short blog posts, a quotation and couple of pictures) and use them for your social media? Repurposing content is a great way to save yourself some time. It ensures that your content gets seen as much as possible.

A blog post that you have written a year ago might still be as a relevant today as it was then. Update it and post it again. Do you have a quotation or picture that received a lot of attention and engagement when you first posted it? There’s no harm in posting it again. Evergreen content is used by a lot of organisations and influencers. It’ll help you lighten the load of having to create new content all the time.

Marketing with a small non-profit team - icon of maximum use

Feature image for blog post: reach your target audience

How can I reach my target audience?

This is the question in marketing. The holy grail, so to speak. If you as an organisation can successfully engage with your target audience, you’re doing great. So, how can you do it? Unfortunately (as you might know), it’s not always easy to get to that stage. So, let’s have a look at what you can do to reach your ideal audience organically, without having to put up a whole lot of money. We’ll be looking at two consecutive steps here:

–> Define your target audience

–> Reach your target audience

Reaching your target audience – the holy grail of marketing.

Define your target audience

The first step in reaching your ideal audience is to know who they are. (If your organisation has done this step already, jump right ahead to section 2.) Sounds easy enough, but often people only have a vague idea about this group or, worse, want to reach everyone. Not knowing your audience or wanting to reach everyone is likely going to make your marketing efforts vague and unspecific. In contrast, organisations with a clear idea of persona groups are likely to be much better at generating attention. Defining personas has multiple advantages. It makes your communications more targeted, reaches the right kind of people and makes interacting with your organisation much easier and effective for those targeted users.

Using marketing personas made websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by targeted users.

HubSpot

1. Start with the overall target group

This might be the easiest step. You will likely have a vague idea of who you want to reach with your marketing, for example people who would like to volunteer with you or those who want to attend your webinars. So far so good. Most people know these categories but then stop without putting details to the individual groups.

You can now use these groups as starting points for your personas. Before we continue, though, it’s probably a good idea to define what a persona is. The team of Sendible, a social media management tool, defines:

Marketing personas are made using real-life customer research to create profiles of specific, individual customers that represent a key audience segment. They are essentially a profile of one person that reflects a key part of your audience.

Sendible

The task now is to take those overall target groups and create these personas for each of them while ensuring that they are specific and individual.

2. Personas

There are a variety of factors you can include in your persona. The most important is to include those that are important for marketing your message. The following categories should all be covered:

  • Demographics: gender, age, income, occupation, education, hobbies… include anything that describes the personas situation in life and is relevant
  • Motivations: this category is easiest answered by going through a few questions. What are the challenges for my persona? Why do they get out of bed in the morning? What are their pain points (especially those, that you might be able to help with)?
  • Name: Give each of your personas a name to make them more relatable and increase empathy. Treat them like real people in your team and, if you like, give them a little background story. This will help to make them more relatable.
  • Communication: Last but not least, have a clear idea of where your persona might be active online and offline. A 20-year-old student might be better reached on Instagram whereas a 70-year-old retiree might be easier reached through good old-fashioned mail.

When working through these categories, consider the following overall factors: geographic factors, socio-demographics and psychological factors. They will assist you in creating a persona that is tangible and realistic. To make sure your creating personas you can work with in the future, consider this little memory aid:

Primary research

Can you conduct some research with people who engage with you already? Base this on chatting to actual people who use your services, volunteers, social media comments, etc.

Empathy

As already mentioned, giving your persona a name, a picture and a small narrative can make them more relatable.

Realistic

Does the persona appear realistic to people in your organisation who deal with users every day?

Singular

When you create a variety of personas, make sure each is unique and differentiable from the others.

Objectives

What are the personas’ needs/objectives? What’s their key need? You can include this as a quotation by the user to increase empathy.

Number

Ideally, your team can remember the different personas which will make including them in everything you do easier. Is the number of personas small enough for the team to remember their names?

Applicable

Is this persona suitable to make key message decisions, design decisions, etc.?

Example: Mental health charity for young people
  • Vicky, the Volunteer
    • Demographics: woman, 25-40, no children yet, earns £30,000/year, in your local area, has experience with mental health issues (herself or relatives/friends)
    • Motivations: generally keen to engage with good causes, has not been majorly affected by the current Corona crisis and wants to give back
    • Name: Vicky the volunteer
    • Communication: Instagram, Facebook
  • Sophie, the Sufferer (children and young people)
  • Paul, the Parent: of the young people
  • Pete, the politician to influence policy

Reaching your target audience

Now that you have gotten to know your personas, it’s time to apply that knowledge and reach them. The following tips and tricks cover a variety of ways to go about this, from fairly standard common-sense processes to more niche practices. Pick the ones that are right for you in reaching your target audience.

1. Create content and share it on relevant channels

This one is an obvious one and likely precedes all the following points. Before you can share your content in any way, you need to create it. The personas you have created should make it much easier to tailor specific key messages to each persona and distribute it through the relevant channels. When creating content, keep various communication styles in mind – text, image & video, sound. Different people consume content differently. Equally, make sure your content is inclusive and avoids subconscious bias. There are multiple ways of how to devise your content strategy. We at Multiplied By are fans of an approach called They Ask You Answer.

2. Cooperation with others (organisations or influencers)

Now that your content is ready, a great way to share it with people who might benefit from seeing it is teaming up with likeminded organisations or influencers and ask them to share it. They don’t have to work for the exactly the same cause as you are, but might be on the periphery. Especially if you’re a not-for-profit, your relationships with others and their likeminded causes can be a great asset. Find those organisations that have a similar audience to that which you would like to attract and ask them to share your content on their channels. A quick personal message to them can often be enough to get them to share your content and, thus, lead people to your page.

A grumpy piggybank is surrounded by money. By involving others in your marketing, you can easier reach you target audience.

Example: a mental health charity might partner with an influencer who is dedicated to help people get rid of their debt and become financially healthy. Financial worries can cause mental health issues and, thus, a partnership might reach the right kind of people. Both parties (and users) will likely benefit from this cooperation.

Another potent way to work together is to plan content together or involve others in your creation process. Let’s say you’re that mental health charity we just mentioned and you’re writing a blog post about reasons for mental health issues in adults. You want to talk about 5 different reasons, for example health, financial worries, loneliness, etc. Why not find an organisation or influencer for each of these reasons and get a quote from them that you can incorporate in your post? Not only does this increase the expertise of the article, but you will now likely reach each of their audiences when they share the finished post with their following. (This is also brilliant for your SEO!)

3. Guest contributions

The previous point can be taken one step further. Getting guests involved in your content creation can be expanded to asking them to create a full piece of content for you. This has multiple advantages: you are getting fresh perspectives, devoting less time and resources to creating content and – most importantly in this context – likely getting someone from outside your organisation but in a similar field. When they share this piece of content with their networks and introduce your organisation to them, it’s a win-win for everyone. Equally, guest contributions don’t have to be by experts or professionals. You can easily ask someone who is involved in your organisation as a volunteer, for example, to do a social media take over and lead the content for a day or two.

4. #UseHashtags (#LearnHowToUseThemFirst) #Hashtag

Hashtags are a science in themselves and we don’t have the space here to go into detail. Basically, a hashtag serves to contextualise and group certain posts together. People follow hashtags that they are interested in and, if your post uses that hashtag, will see your content even if they don’t follow you specifically. The number of hashtags to use varies on each platform. For example, Instagram allows up to 30 tags and many people utilise this, whereas 30 hashtags on Twitter would not be rewarded. If you’re keen on upping your hashtag game, check out this or this post.

5. Comment on people’s posts and questions

Another fairly easy way to engage with your target audience is to, well, engage with them. Follow relevant hashtags, organisations and influencers yourself and engage with their content. Try to not just advertise your organisation in each comment/engagement, but just engage in conversation to topics that might relate to your cause. Like others’ posts, follow relevant organisations yourself and maybe join a group or two on Facebook/LinkedIn to engage on a certain topic on a deeper level.

6. Invite people who like a post to like your page

This tip is Facebook-specific. The platform has a great functionality whereby you can invite people to like your page if they have liked a piece of your content. This works great if one of your followers has shared your content which is then liked by their followers. You can now ask that follower to like your page. Easy. From experience, the majority of people will follow that invitation because they have already shown an interest in you by liking your content in the first place.

7. Look at what others in your field are doing

If you’re looking for more ways to engage with target audiences, have a look at what ‘the competition’ is doing. What creative ways have other organisations found to engage their target audiences? You won’t be able to see what they’re doing behind the scenes, but if they are collaborating with others or devising creative ways to engage more interested people, it’s likely going to show on their channels. Don’t hesitate to talk to people and ask them what they are doing. This might be easier if you start with someone who is on the periphery of what you do, thus not directly considered competition. Have a chat and share ideas.

8. Chat to existing users

Similarly to the previous point, chatting to your own followers and service users can give you helpful insight. How have they found you? Why have they started engaging with you? Their answers might surprise you and help you focus your content strategy more clearly.

Whatever you do, just get started. Some of the points mentioned here require quite a bit of work, others less so. Mainly, it’s important to get started and spend some time up front to make sure your personas and content strategy are based on solid footing. These things will get easier and become second-nature over time. If you want to have a chat about reaching your target audience and want to get serious about this part of your strategy, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help.


Video marketing for SMEs – why should I care?

If a picture tells a thousand words, let’s consider what 30 frames per second can achieve.

 

Video marketing is a tremendously effective communications tool and one that is increasingly accessible to small and medium sized businesses. With everyone spending more time online and being time poor, being able to communicate complex issues and brand personality can be rapidly accomplished with video that page copy and photography cannot. Even before the pandemic, the average person watched more than an hour and a half of online video content per day. This will undoubtedly have increased in the last 12 months.

With this in mind and with our unashamed love for creating video content, it can be no surprise that we highly recommend video marketing for small businesses and destination projects. Video has the ability to accomplish multiple brand objectives:

  • Develop brand awareness
  • Cross platform online presence
  • Reveal brand personality
  • Ignite social media interaction
  • Build trusting relationships
  • Cost effective production

Destination projects

When we work with clients in destination markets, what we hear time after time is “show me, don’t tell me”. And it’s true. Can you imagine visiting a hotel in Spain after reading a brochure that has no images? We are not booking that fortnight in the sun. Now, compare that to one that has a short video giving a tour of the living accommodation, some panning shots of the locality and an aerial shot of activities available close by, all brought together within a professional and authentic brand? Which do you think best articulates the benefits and is more likely to gain your trust and your booking? Video wins because video works. We have trust that they are showing us the best that experience has to offer. We can see ourselves cosying up in front of that fire or dusting off the cobwebs by taking a long leisurely walk along that stunning, white sand beach.

Food and Hospitality projects

As we note above, marketing is most effective when we can allow customers to place themselves in the experience. The food and hospitality sector has a proud reputation for producing stunning product photography and this can be hugely effective. However, until Microsoft or Google create smell-o-vision or taste technology, video is the next best thing. Video can present a picture that photography cannot: this could be a slow motion shot of a chef seasoning prime rib before it is served, steam gently meandering upwards, to a visibly pleased customer. We could be flying a drone across the blooming field of wheat as the farmer harvests the produce that will be baked in a local bakery. From farm field to the final frame, we can tell a story of quality produce and quality producers in a way that other mediums cannot. Not only that, we also make sure they are presented in their brand and with a voice they want to communicate in.

Small Businesses

Video helps small look big. The massive jump forward in the quality of accessible technology means that, with a relatively modest budget and a creative flair, growth businesses can compete for profile with the big players. Indeed, because many smaller enterprises rely so heavily on the personality of a founder, it allows these businesses to have the best of both worlds – a personal touch with a professional polish. On top of that, it gets your brand and business voice out there in only a few minutes.

Effective Medium

We have already established that it is powerful in presenting a story. What really makes it stand out is its ability to engage customers and clients. Like-for-like posts that use video over images or no creative at all are many more times likely to be reacted to, commented on and shared. This is the exponential effect of video.

Brand. Trust. Effectiveness. There is little not to like about using video.


Many diverse hands coming together for one cause. Content marketing for Not-For-Profits

Content marketing for Not-For-Profits - TAYA and the Big 5 + 1

The basis of They Ask You Answer is to create consumer trust in order to maximise profits. But, as the name suggests, not-for-profits are not primarily interested in making money. So can they, and if so how, apply TAYA to their organisation and marketing strategy? Can content marketing for not-for-profits work with this approach?

TAYA and Not-for-profits – is it possible?

The answer is a definitive yes. After all, even though not-for-profits are not in it for the profit, they are as much as anyone looking to foster and increase trust with their target audiences. However, we need to tweak TAYA a little bit and look at it from a different perspective in order to make it work. It is necessary to keep in mind that, even though non-profits are not focused on profit-making, they still exist within a capitalist society and have to survive within it, whether it’s through grant funding, donations or selling products in order to raise money for their cause. So how can we apply TAYA when we find ourselves in that middle ground – needing money and support and wanting to spread awareness for our cause but not being in it for profit?

The very TAYA basic principles remain the same when talking about content marketing for not-for-profits: write down all questions people interested in your organisation have ever asked you and answer them truthfully. We think that categorising these questions, however, will look slightly different. Let’s have a look at the big 5 and one additional category for content marketing for not-for-profits.

Content marketing for Not-For-Profits - TAYA categories for not-for-profits
Content marketing for Not-For-Profits - TAYA big 5 categories - pricing

Pricing

Pricing & costs might not be the focus of your TAYA strategy and you might feel hesitant to talk about your organisation’s finances, but it’s worth noting what aspects in this category might be of interest to your audience. You might be selling services and products whose prices could be addressed. You might be relying heavily on donations or grant funding and your audience might be keen to know how exactly you are spending their donations or what the funding process entails. Don’t be shy in talking about these, but make sure to always connect them to your cause. Emphasise exactly why you need that money and how it will make a difference in the world.

Content marketing for Not-For-Profits - TAYA big 5 categories - problems

Problems

When it comes to problems to address, you as a not-for-profit might have more to talk about. Not necessarily because you are more flawed than for-profit organisations, but because your target audiences are likely more diverse and, thus, might raise a bigger variety of potential problems. A prospective volunteer might want to know how you hope to integrate them into your organisation if their work is to be long-distance, a customer of your recycled technology might inquire why they should trust that your repairs are as safe as professional ones, and a potential service user might wonder why they should trust you and your befriending volunteers with their mental health. Imagine what the biggest sceptic would challenge you about your organisation and engage with those questions. Ideally, you can turn these challenges into advantages and show why your organisation is the best to deal with these problems.

Content marketing for Not-For-Profits - TAYA big 5 categories - comparisons

Comparisons

Comparisons look slightly different for not-for-profits. The sector shows a much higher interest in collaboration with other not-for-profits, so comparing yourself to similar organisations could shine an unwelcome negative light on those partners. However, comparisons are still possible. Firstly, as a not-for-profit you are likely aiming to make a change and have an impact on the status quo. Explaining the status quo and how your approach is better, is a great start. Equally, comparing yourself with other organisations can work if it is well-meaning.

Let’s assume you are a mental health charity offering one-to-one counselling. Other charities might also provide mental health support but with greater emphasis on group activities or befriending. You could lay out these different offers and explain which services are best for whom. This will foster your relationships with other organisations while positioning yourself as an expert and providing genuine value for someone who is not sure where to turn.

Content marketing for Not-For-Profits - TAYA big 5 categories - review and best in class

Reviews & Best in Class

Reviews and Best in Class follow in the same spirit – collaboration counts for more than leaving others in the lurch. It might appear odd to recommend other organisations instead of talking about how great you are, but the value of positioning yourself as an expert and building trust is immense. Whom do you trust more – the person who says they are the best in everything or the person who makes genuine judgements about what they are good in and what others might be doing better? Very likely the latter.

Equally, reviews and best-in-class do not have to focus on organisations that do exactly what you do. Find those that are on the periphery of what you do – somewhat related but not exactly the same. Have a look at software or tools that you use – do you have some expertise in the different available options and can talk a bit about which is best?

Content marketing for Not-For-Profits - TAYA big 5+1 categories - cause

Cause

This sixth category must be your biggest focus in your content marketing strategy. It is what differentiates you from all for-profits and makes you unique: your cause and the impact you are aiming for. This is the reason for why you as an organisation exist and why you do what you. It’s been shown that “87% of people want meaningful interactions with brands.” and it’s easy to imagine that this number is even bigger for interactions with not-for-profit. After all, meaning and impact is not-for-profits’ main goal. So dig deep into that cause and answer all questions that your target audience might have. A Community Interest Company who does this well is The Blurt Foundation who post weekly blog posts and pieces of content surrounding their cause of increasing awareness and understanding of depression.

How about for-profits?

In fact, there is a case to be made for for-profit organisations also considering their values and causes. Even though their main goal is to make a profit, more and more consider themselves as following certain values and being socially and environmentally conscious. Whereas talking about your cause might not massively impact your SEO, it is likely to increase your audiences’ trust in you, whether it’s on social media or offline marketing. Including values in your marketing as a for-profit and showing your customers what you stand for, will raise your profile and give your customers something to connect to.

When customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.

Sproutsocial.com

If you stick to these 6 categories within your content marketing for not-for-profits, you are on track for a heap of great content. You will continuously expand your online resources, providing valuable content to prospective volunteers, donors & service users and position yourself and your organisation as an expert in your field. 


4 reasons for using Hubspot as a small & medium-sized enterprise

If you’re one of our clients you will know that we like talking about Hubspot. This article firstly looks at what is behind the name and, secondly, why this piece of software is great for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

Hubspot, in a nutshell, is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Or in other words: it lets you manage all your customers – and potential ones – in one place. That includes your marketing, sales, services and content management. Pretty neat, isn’t it? When you use Hubspot, all of your (potential) customers are registered with their email-address and specific interests and communications with you, whether it’s via downloading a PDF from your website, signing up to a talk or a plain email. As their engagement with you continues, their profile grows and provides you with a better picture of what their needs are and how you can help and support them best. This video shows best what we’re talking about:

Note: We do not promote Hubspot because it is a fee earning service (although small businesses start for free!). We promote Hubspot because it works for small businesses that have growth ambitions. When coupled with They Ask, You Answer and Assignment Marketing, it has proven to increase sales cycle speeds, conversions and reduce wasted time, while building up trust with the customer and the authority of trust in the business.

So, why should your SME use Hubspot?

Efficency

The software package is a great way to help you become more efficient. Instead of answering potential client emails and the same questions over and over again, Hubspot in combination with content marketing will bring well-informed, sales-qualified leads to your team, ready-to-buy, sympathetic to your pitch. This means you spend less time and costs with chasing your clients. Instead, you are free to create more valuable content while the software does the heavy lifting for you. It’s like having an additional team member that never sleeps, takes breaks, gets ill or goes on annual leave.

Insight

Hubspot will help you better understand why someone might be interested in your organisation and how you can best serve and cater to them. By automatically creating a profile for each of your potential customers, you don’t have to do the heavy lifting of finding out who engaged with your content when, where and why.

Scalable

The CRM is equally great for SMEs because it grows with you. You do not have to commit to a chunk of money every month that gives you access to tools that you might not even need. Instead, depending on the number of your clients and employees, Hubspot will grow with you. Brilliantly, you can start small and only increase your functionality and access as your company grows and you can afford it.

Expertise

Last but not least, it adds expertise to your communications. Or rather, it adds expertise by educating customers before they engage with your team. That way they get the information they need when they want it and you can focus on engaging with them when they are already quite clear on how you can help them. Plus, as mentioned above, you free up extra time to create more valuable content for your marketing and knowledge hub.

Do you think Hubspot could be for you? Get in touch to discuss how we can help you set it up.


What is value(s)-based marketing?

Searching the web for values and marketing brings up two main areas of communication: a communication strategy that appeals to your customers’ values and ethics and a strategy whereby you provide valuable content to potential customers by solving problems for them, posting tutorials for free, etc. In this blog post, we briefly explain the two value marketing approaches and why we take them one step further.

Values…

Values-based marketing describes an approach to marketing “strategy that appeals to your customers’ values and ethics.” The goal is to foster a values-based connection with customers that increases trust and goes beyond merely promoting products/services. According to a survey by Edelman (2014), shoppers crave this form of connection— 87% of consumers responded saying they look for meaningful relationships with brands. A great and very well-known example of successful values-based marketing of this approach are Ben & Jerry’s who very openly communicate and market their values of social justice and inclusion (see picture). Many companies embrace their values, just as Seric, one of our clients, who have founded the charity SmartSTEMs that works towards empowering young people towards working in STEM fields.

Ben and Jerry’s Resist campaign sparked a lot of attention and appealed directly to their desired customer base.

Stuart Macdonald, Founder and CEO of SmartSTEMs , advocates not only for young people in STEM fields but also for the use of sensible technologies to connect people.

…and value

Value-based marketing, however, is slightly different: it refers closer to the purpose of the content that is shared which aims to deliver value to potential customers rather than just promising value and waiting until someone pays for it. It’s marketing that’s useful to you from the off. This can come in form of tutorials, eBooks, or blog posts. The internet is bursting with this form of communication. Think of all the free YouTube tutorials or influencer channels that provide you with valuable content without you ever having to buy anything first.

The golden synthesis

When we at Multiplied By talk about value(s)-based marketing, we go one step further. Not only do we incorporate both of the above approaches, but we put them at the centre of everything we do. Sure, promoting your business with its values is good, but what’s even better is promoting socially good organisations. Not organisations that sell something and also have some nice values (after all, who likes a business that promotes good values just as a means to an end?) but organisations that are good and exist mainly to further good values, e.g. social inclusion, mental health awareness, etc. We don’t fancy mindless design for just another pretty logo. We don’t support design or websites that are not inclusive. We don’t support organisations that treat their staff badly. In short, whether you’re a charity, social enterprise or commercial business, if your mission is to make the world a little bit better, we’re right there with you.

It is that same spirit that informs our approach to the second form of values-based marketing. Throwing products at people in a world that throws products at people left right and centre is likely not going to do you much good. Providing content that brings value and actually helps people solve a problem is much more likely to gain traction. Specifically, we follow the They Ask You Answer (TAYA) approach by Marcus Sheridan. The basis of TAYA is simple: answer people’s questions in a knowledgeable and honest fashion. Sounds easy and not very innovative, but can be tricky when it comes to pricing and addressing potential problems with your products/services. We believe that putting your customer’s needs and questions at the heart of everything you do is the best way to not only market your organisation but to make a positive difference every day, step by step.

If you are on the same wavelength and need some creative support, why not get in touch and let us know how we can help you get your values out into the world? (And even though as a business, of course, we need to make money in order to survive, you have our word that we practise what we preach. Values come first, always.)


Quick marketing wins for universities

Marketing can be a time-intense and slow process. While we definitely think that you should have a long-term marketing strategy in place, there are some fairly quick things you can do to improve your digital marketing in a few small steps. Focus in this post: marketing for universities, their courses and research centres.

Optimise your page for mobile use: when designing or updating a website, we often forget to check how it looks on mobile devices. That can be a problem, especially when you’re trying to appeal to a younger audience who are more likely to find you through their smartphone (aka prospective students) or when people find you through social media which is mostly accessed via mobile phones. Whether you want to reach new students or spread your research findings far and wide, a mobile-friendly website is a must.

Introduce your team: universities are often big organisations and can feel quite anonymous (especially in times of Covid). Why not show your friendly faces to the world and introduce who you are? A picture and some text are enough (and if you have a little bit more time and colleagues who are willing why not let them introduce themselves via a short video?). Whether it’s admin staff, lecturers or researchers, people want to get to know you.

Showcase successes of staff AND students: do you know a student who has just celebrated a personal success? Or has one of your staff members just published that book/article/report that they’ve been working on for the past year? Let the world know. (Don’t forget to ask for permission, though.) Not only will your staff and students feel appreciated and valued, you’re also showing the outside world that you are pursuing a culture of community and mutual support.

Answer the most important questions: surely, there are questions that you get asked again and again…by students, staff, people interested in your research centre. Make a list and answer each in a blog post. You’ve likely answered these questions in emails before, so no need to start from scratch! Find your well-written emails and modify them to suit a blog post. There is a wealth of content and blog posts here for you to put out and promote. Benefit: the next time someone asks you these questions, simply refer them to the blog post and safe yourself a lot of time. (There is a whole approach centred around this – read about TAYA.)

Student and staff testimonials: being reviewed online and potential students/colleagues checking out your university before they even start is normal – dare I say it common sense – nowadays. Marketing for universities should make use of that and work with it. Why not create testimonials and make sure you present them in the best light? Ask around among your students and staff to get a short quote on what they enjoy about being at your institution/course. Post it, ideally with a picture of the person.

Have conversations: feeling disengaged and disconnected from your students/staff/the world in general? Try to run a quick poll on your social media channels inquiring what you can help people with today. Instagram has a handy poll function in its story feature, but it can also be done easily on Facebook or Twitter as a normal post.

Behind the scenes: why not share a picture or short video of everyday life in your department? Authenticity and transparency are key values in marketing. Show how research is made, who is involved and why you are doing it. Humanise it. If your visuals don’t look top of the class – good. You don’t want to seem too polished.

 

Do you have a bit more time?

“A typical day at xyz” Get your staff and/or students involved in making a video about everyday life at your institution. What does a typical day as a student look like? Or what does the research assistant do on an average workday? All you need is a camera/smartphone and someone willing to put themselves out there.

Graphical abstracts When you’re a researcher, you get asked constantly what your research is about which can quickly get annoying (especially if your topic requires some explanation). Have you ever thought about a graphical abstract? Is there a way to create an infographic style visual that can explain your research? These are great for sharing your project online and helping people understand what you do. Top tip: if you want to go all the way, try a short and snappy video abstract – it’ll definitely make you stand out from the crowd.

Need help with anything or have questions about marketing for universities? Let us know, we can help.


They Ask You Answer - The Basics

Whether you call it inbound marketing, content marketing or digital marketing, the goal is the same: attract consumers by providing valuable content. This blog post introduces the They Ask You Answer approach which gets to the core of that goal and its application. It is based on Marcus Sheridan’s book of the same name (2019). All page numbers refer to the book. 

The Problem

The past decade has seen dramatic changes in consumer behaviour and marketing. The main ‘culprit’ – as so often – is the internet. It makes it possible for people to acquire honest reviews about products, find countless articles and posts about literally any kind of product or service and it does so within seconds. “Today, on average, 70% of the buying decision is made before a prospect talks to the company.” (p.9)

With so much material out there and decisions being made before you even speak to a prospective customer/service user, why not make sure that information is provided by you in a transparent, knowledgeable and truthful fashion? Why not position yourself as the expert? That is where Marcus Sheridan’s book They Ask, you Answer (TAYA) takes off. Sheridan, a content marketing expert, used to work for a struggling swimming pool business which was on the verge of collapsing. His approach to communicating with potential customers and making use of the possibilities digital tools offer have contributed in big part to the survival of the company.

So, what is TAYA about?

Ultimately, all organisations are interested in the same thing: consumer trust. How can that be achieved? Simple: answer consumer’s questions. This does not seem like anything new or revolutionary, but TAYA goes beyond a simple question-answer formula. It’s a business philosophy that centres solely around the question “What is my customer thinking? What are they searching, asking, feeling and fearing?” (p.21) Whereas in principle answering your customers questions is nothing new, the actuality of doing so and embedding it in everything you do is.

It all starts with a very simple exercise: write down every question you’ve ever been asked by a prospect or customer. (Maybe stop at 100 to start with.) Better still, sit down with your team and have everyone do this exercise. Keep in mind to do this from the perspective of the customer, so instead of writing “Why should you buy XYZ”, ask “What is XYZ and does it suit my needs?”. Put special focus on those things that might stop someone from engaging with you. What worries, fears or concerns could potentially come up with your product/services? Asking these questions as well as answering them might be scary, but if you’re not willing to answer them, someone else will on your behalf and potentially to your detriment.

The Big 5

When starting to sort through these questions, it’s likely that The Big 5, as Sheridan calls them, will come up again and again.

TAYA big 5 categories - pricing

  • Pricing & costs (1) Ever looked at restaurant menu and seen no prices? Did you think ‘Perfect, I don’t care how much it costs’ or ‘The prices must be horrendous or why are they not telling them? I’m out of here’? If you’re anything like me, it’s the latter. The same principle applies to anything, really. Not stating your prices and costs is likely to deter prospective customers instead of making them trust you. Of course, addressing your prices isn’t always easy nor straightforward, particularly if you provide a service. You don’t have to give a price list, but addressing how your prices are made up, what influences them and why you price the way you price will go a long way in answering those important questions.

TAYA big 5 categories - problems

  • Problems (2) Another likely big part of your question list will have to do with problems and challenges. What are potential problems with your product/services? Again, answering these might not come easy to you, but if you don’t do it, negative reviews and competitors are likely to do it for you. Once you consider what negative aspects your competition and your customers might say about you, you can address them honestly and transparently and, potentially, turn them into an advantage.

TAYA big 5 categories - comparisons

  • Versus & comparisons (3) One of the big changes that the internet has enabled is the ease with which people can explore a variety of options and compare products/services. You’re not faced with only 2-3 options in your local shop, but with potentially hundreds of options online. You have probably found yourself comparing a lot of products online before making a bigger purchase choice. When you do so, you’re looking for honest comparisons and reviews, not biased ones. So how do you gain trust and avoid that consumers think you’re being biased when writing about your own products/services? Disarm your reader from the start by admitting honestly: “We might not be the best fit for you, but we also could be. It’s for you to decide. Here are the different options.” You’re acknowledging that they might have needs you cannot fulfil which makes you an honest and transparent expert.

TAYA big 5 categories - reviews and best in class

  • Reviews (4) and Best in class (5) These two might feel a bit strange. Should you really review and recommend competitors services and products? Look at it this way: Very few people will be better suited than you to make an informed decision about the best services and products offered in your field. Reviewing and recommending them will position you further as an expert, build your network with those recommended organisations and, last but not least, establish trust again. Keep in mind though to not include yourself in your list of Best in Class, you don’t want to appear biased.

What now?

Once you’ve listed and sorted trough all those questions, the next step is – you guessed it – to answer them. Start with the most important ones and allocate them to different team members to answer in form of a blog post. It can seem like a lot at first, but just get started. Over time, your team will get into the habit of writing these posts and it’ll get easier. By doing so, you’re continuously expanding your online resources, providing valuable content to prospective customers/clients and positioning yourself as an expert in your field. You will also save more and more resources by not answering these questions over and over again – you can now just refer those who ask to the blog post that already exist.

This is the very basis of TAYA. It does not stop there, though. Answering questions in written form is one thing (and a great start!), but wouldn’t it be better to answer some (or all) questions in video form? And how does this approach impact your website? Where do you take the time from to create all this content? Especially if you’re working in a not-for-profit environment, how can you afford this time-intense approach? And how can you convince your team to buy into TAYA and keep them motivated?

There are many, many more aspects to TAYA which we will explore further in future blog posts. If you’re already intrigued and want to have a chat about how you could make this approach work for you, get in touch and we’ll have a chat to see how we can help you.